Saturday, February 16, 2013

David Downs Defending Champion Almagro

Ahead of the match yesterday, I wrote that (after Aguilar and Pella) Nicolas Almagro would be the first real test for David. He was - but one that David passed with flying colours, prevailing 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(3).
And not even 28 aces, the equivalent of 7 service games, could save the defending champion. In the end, Almagro won three points more than David. But it was David, who won more of the important points - and that's not always the case with him.
In today's semifinal, he will now face Simone Bolelli, currently ranked #80. It will be David's first match against the Italian but apparently, he knows who Bolelli is (see clip below).
But back to yesterday's quarterfinal. A very brief chronology of events.

After David saved a first couple of break points at 1-1, Almagro threw in a poor game and double-faulted to grant him an unexpected break for 4-2. It was the only break David got in this match but he handed it straight back with a poor game of his own. Back on serve, David had a first set point at 6-5. Almagro's response: 3 aces in a row. In the tiebreak, David got the decisive mini-break for 6-4 and then converted what was his altogether third set point. 7-6(5)
In the second set, it was Almagro who saved a couple of break points at 1-1. David remained solid in his service games until a couple of forehand errors and a double fault cost him his serve, to give Almagro a 5-3 lead. Four points later, he took the set, 6-3.
In the third set both held easily until 4-4. In the following game David faced and saved two break points and then he did the same again at 5-5. In the eventual tiebreak, David slipped during the first rally (pic) but immediately recovered the resulting mini-break. After another mini-break at 3-3, David had 3 match points at 6-3, Almagro had to rely on a second serve - and David hit a clean return winner. 7-6(3)

A close and thrilling match and a hard-fought victory over a strong opponent. But most of all a simply amazing performance from David, in every department. After all, it was the kind of match that depended on what you can't train or recreate on the practice court - those notorious important moments. Especially last season, David lost a number of matches because he didn't manage to raise his game when it really mattered. But yesterday, playing only his third match after almost half a year away from the Tour, David played two excellent tiebreaks and also saved altogether four break points during the decisive stage of the third set (and in courageous fashion, I might add). He knew he wouldn't get too many chances in this match but he managed to make the most out of those that he got.
That David's game remains intact even after long pauses is something he has proven before. If his serve is more stable now (as I'm beginning to hope after this match), we'll see. And how much this match has taken out of him, the semifinal will show. But this match and this kind of victory is something we didn't get to see from David in a long time. And whatever may happen today, it's a great start for the season.

The last words (in English) I'll leave to David, about the match and about his next opponent:


  1. we all had mainly given up believing in David to be still motivated to play another season, to come back again but he didn't and proved everyone that he can come back whenever he wants

  2. And it's great to see him back and doing so well. I didn't really expect that after such a long pause (a couple weeks more and he would've qualified for a protected ranking).

    But we don't know what's going to happen. Whether he'll get injured again and how long it'll take. And whether seeing his newborn child might make him think that there are more important things in life than tennis. That's why I'm for simply enjoying David's matches while we can.